Brownie Bites for my Valentine

Babycakes Brownie BitesIt’s that time of year again when all the cooking magazines and food shows suddenly discover their sweet tooth (again) and the color pallet turns to pink and red and deep, dark chocolate brown. Far be it from me to shake the trend! I have to admit, my taste for chocolate has always been more inclined towards its purer forms- dark chocolate truffles, chocolate mousse, fudge, hot fudge or chocolate fondue- basically, chocolate without any flour to get in the way. I want my chocolate rich, creamy, and unadulterated, thank you very much. But my DH, who told me on our first date that he loved making chocolate desserts for fun, adores the crumbly spongy chocolate in a really good brownie. Oh, he’ll eat fudge if I make it, sneaking pieces when I’m not looking and chomping it as the sweet note after a savory meal, but his eyes don’t light up. This is why when I heard that Martha Stewart had the chef and creator of Babycakes, a gourmet gluten free bakery in NY receiving national acclaim, on her show making gluten free brownies, I had to tune in. (At the time of this posting, the episode is still available on her site- search Martha’s recipes for Babycakes and you will get recipes and the links allowing you to view the episode.)

I was intrigued by her recipe for brownies- not only was it gluten free, dairy free, egg free, but it was even free of refined sugars. She used agave nectar as a sweetener. Formerly I had only associated agave with Tequila, but apparently Mexican agave has recently gained acclaim as a healthful substitute for sugar, being both sweeter than sugar (so you can use less and thus decrease calories) and having a low glycemic index. I always feel like when I eat sugary things, I am temporarily giddy but always “crash” later, which isn’t fun. Web sites say you can use 25 percent less agave nectar (or syrup) than the sugar or corn syrup called for in a recipe, and it may be a good idea to lower your oven temp. by 25 degrees. I immediately went on a quest for agave nectar, finally selecting the agave pictured on the right. It was pure agave syrup, which can be hard to find, and the price was reasonable. This container of 46 oz looks like it would make about 5-6 brownie recipes, but there are larger sizes if you decide you will use it regularly. (Note: I always try to order from Amazon grocery rather than gourmet, as grocery usually has free shipping offered and gourmet ships from individual sellers and the price can really add up. Of course if you have a good source locally, that’s great too.) The Babycakes recipe was mostly based on high protein bean flour, which is both healthy and usually gives things a nice texture. The dough looked so silky smooth and light- and the resulting brownies looked so sweet and enticing. (Yes, I am enticed by such things…) I also picked up a mini muffin tin. Mini muffins look so sweet, and little portions make it easier to count calories. (I know, I know, no fun- forget I mentioned it.)

So, gradually I assembled the ingredients needed- and started my grand experiment with agave the night before Valentines Day. (And not a creature was stirring, as the cats were both unconscious on the couch, those lazy creatures.) I had a dark mini muffin tin, which I also used, but I also used my new silver muffin tin. (The silver one ended up working better and the muffins were easier to remove.) I sprayed the tins with nonstick cooking spray, mixed the batter, stirred in my (non-vegan) chocolate chips, and poured the batter in the pans. The smell of chocolate permeated the house… and when they were done, I tried some hot out of the oven and cooled the rest on a rack. When hot the brownie bites were perfectly moist, chocolatey, and melted on the tongue. Once cooled, the exterior became almost carmelized, sealing the soft brownie center in perfectly. They were probably the best brownies I’d ever had. DH’s eyes lit up when he tried them, and it became clear I would have to keep an eye on him if I wanted any brownies for myself. He said they were everything a brownie should be- chocolatey, melty, and “undistinguishable’ from the gluten variety. “Oh yes? So what would you rate them?” I asked. “A 9… or a 10, out of 10,” he said firmly. From the boy who gives out 6’s like there is a discount on them- who has so far never rated anything with a ten with the possible exception of my southern fried tofu- this is high praise indeed. But don’t take our word for it- try them yourself! You won’t be sorry- and I promise, you won’t miss anything that’s not there, including the sugar.

Babycakes Brownies
Nonstick GF cooking spray

1/2 cup canola oil

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons garfava bean flour

1/4 cup potato starch

2 tablespoons arrowroot

10 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons agave nectar

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup store-bought unsweetened applesauce

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup brewed coffee or espresso (hot water if you must)

2 cups vegan gluten-free chocolate chips, such as Tropical Source (or regular chocolate chips)

Special equipment: Mini muffin tins, 2 or 3 is ideal

1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray 2 or 3 dozen mini-muffin pans with GF nonstick cooking spray. (I used 2 but had enough dough left over for one large brownie.)

2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients in a large bowl, including the agave syrup. Gently fold in flour mixture,
stirring to combine. Stir in coffee (or espresso for more kick!) to make a smooth, silky batter. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Put 1 tablespoon batter into each mini muffin cup.
Transfer muffin pans to oven, and bake until a toothpick inserted into
the center comes out clean, 12 to 15 minutes. (In my oven, more like 17-18 minutes, but watch carefully.) You can remove the muffins from the tins when they’ve cooled slightly and place them on a metal rack, or wait for them to cool and then put them on a rack. It is very important to place warm brownie bites on a rack and not a plate or moisture will condense on bottom of cupcakes and they will get soggy.

Makes about 5 dozen mini brownies

Note: This recipe is free of wheat, gluten, dairy, casein, and eggs. (dairy free requires vegan chocolate chips)

Martha Stewart had the owner of the NY bakery Babycakes on her show, and here is one of the recipes that she demonstrated for Martha. Looked good enough that I started wanting to buy some agave syrup! (and in fact, did buy at Amazon, just for this recipe.)

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13 Responses to “Brownie Bites for my Valentine”

  1. [...] Looking for more gluten-free mini-muffin recipes? Try this: Valentine’s Day Agave-sweetened Chocolate mini-muffin Brownie recipe featured at Book of Yum Wheat-free, gluten free Blueberry mini muffin recipe healthy Prickly Pear Mesquite Mini Muffin recipe Gluten-free chocolate almond mini muffin recipe Gluten Free Mini Vanilla filled cupcake recipe Banana Chocolate Chip muffin recipe [...]

  2. Still Learning GF Says:

    I just looked at this recipe today … I’m wondering if it’s possible to substitute honey for the agave nectar?

  3. Still Learning,
    I’m sure it is possible- honey is thicker than agave, so you might want to use less liquid or less honey than agave. Agave is a cool sweetener, though, because it doesn’t cause the glycemic index to spike. I tried looking online for suggestions on how to substitute honey for agave and couldn’t find any. Let us know how it goes!


  4. Still Learning GF Says:

    I want to say it works to change the agave for honey … but there’s more to the story. I found in a book by Carol Fenster that, in substituting honey or agave for sugar, honey is sweeter. So, I cut back on the honey – only 4 Tbsp in a half recipe. But, I didn’t have chocolate chips so I used nuts instead. And, I don’t have garfava bean flour … just garbanzo bean flour. The consistency of the muffins was nice when they were still fresh. They got crumbly quickly. Maybe they needed the melted chips to help hold them together. They also needed some of the sugar from the chips. But, since I am learning to cut back on sugar, I’ll try to enjoy them. (Although I must confess, I was thinking about making a spot of buttercreme icing to “decorate” the tops with!!)

  5. Hi there,
    Thanks for the update! With the agave and chips the recipe is not crumbly at all and holds together really well- I even froze some for later. Nuts are a pretty dry element, and probably contributed to the crumbliness. More honey might help make them more satisfying, but you’re right- the chocolate chips would also help I think. :) Did you use a mini muffin tin? The mini muffins are quite forgiving and create a little morsel package that holds together well. You might enjoy something like banana mini-muffins, if you’re cutting back on sugar- and also, I think the more savory flours like garbanzo need mushed fruit, sugar, chocolate chips, or plenty of agave or honey to cross over into being desserts- otherwise the savory flavor can get in the way of taste.
    I’m really glad you told me how it worked out! Have a great day!

  6. Still Learning GF Says:

    Yup … it was the chocolate chips. I thought the nuts would be oily enough to compensate for the lack of chips. Now, I also am enjoying “little morsels” of chocolate goodness and am ever so glad my Valentine doesn’t eat GF … or I’d have to share them!!

  7. Great news! I’m glad you got the recipe to work out for you. So, did you still use honey? I’ll modify the agave part to include an alternative option of 8 tbsp. honey if that worked nicely. :)


  8. Still Learning GF Says:

    Yes, I still used the honey, but more of it. I’d rather you didn’t change your recipe on my word!

  9. Still Learning GF Says:

    I actually found some agave in a supermarket here in Manila the other day. Is it that expensive in the States … about $6.00 US for about 24 ounces? I made more brownie bites today, this time with the agave and, they came out like they did when I used honey. So, I’m more willing to say honey works. Also, I used mini chocolate chips (about 1 1/2 cups instead of the full 2 cups the recipe called for) and found the chocolate better distributed. Good thing they freeze well … it’s time to move on from the brownie bits … but I really wanted to try them again when I found that agave!

  10. Actually, agave is considerably more expensive in the States- that was quite a bargain comparatively. The benefit to agave, and why people are interested in using it in recipes, is that it doesn’t cause your glycemic index to spike like sugar or honey, so it can be considered a healthier alternative. I’m glad you found the agave- it’s a fun ingredient to play with, if a pricey one. :)


  11. [...] I hope you have a delicious and gluten-free Valentine’s Day! What are you enjoying for Valentine’s Day dinner and Dessert? Please share in the comments! Enjoy more of my Valentine’s Day Recipes! Lemon Vanilla Heart Tuiles with Vanilla Custard Homemade Easy GF Macademia or Pistachio nut Fudge No refined sugar Babycake Brownie Recipe [...]

  12. [...] are extraordinarily creative, and have come up with all kinds of substitutes, including flax seed, applesauce, and even beet puree. Another sticking point was the chocolate of course. I wanted these brownies [...]

  13. This looks yummy. A different kind of brownie. A highly healthy one at that too. I would love to see more recipes like this.

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